Power Outage, Dharamsala, January 2012

Never mind the reasons why.

A hired car and driver were available, right that very minute. Before self could over-think, she heard herself say, “Take me to Dharamsala.”

About halfway there, self looked around and saw that they seemed to be approaching a huge mountain. The mountain just kept getting bigger and bigger. In fact, by the time self had actually arrived IN Dharamsala, the mountain had lost its identity as mountain and was just this huge representation. An all-encompassing I-am-in-India-having-an-out-of-body experience type of representation. (Just think: two weeks earlier, self could never have imagined that she would be in Dharamsala. In fact, she almost never used to think about Dharamsala. In fact, she knew next to nothing about Dharamsala. Until she got stuck in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, she was having a super-sized ADVENTURE with a capital A!)

“Where is your hotel, madame?”

Funny, those are probably the only words of English self ever heard the driver utter. He was from Tibet. Which is how she knew she could trust him.

“Um . . . ummm”

Self casts her mind back to the previous night. She’d stayed up, scanning tripadvisor.

She managed to dredge up a name. The driver took self to the name. It was inside a military cantonment. Oh thank God, self thought, I AM SAFE! (How did she know it was a military cantonment? Because the hired car was stopped by soldiers, a security check before entering said military cantonment)

Self was so exhausted by this whole first-time-in-India thing that she stayed in Dharamsala almost a week.

At one point, there was a power outage.

No no no noooo!

Self had been crouched in front of a portable space heater, praying it didn’t short-circuit in the middle of the night and burn her to a crisp.

But — power outage! Why had she never considered the possibility?

Self’s first thought: I AM GOING TO DIE!!!!

Teeth making loud chattering (involuntary) noises.

At some point, a knock on the door.

Geez! What next? Go away, self yelled.

Then she recognized the voice of one of the inn-keepers. “Madame,” he kept repeating, almost frantic. “Madame, are you all right?”

At which point, self decided to speak:  “M-m-more c-c-comforters!”

Man returns with four.

Next morning, having survived the night, self makes chit-chat with front desk. “Does that happen often?” She means: Power Outage.

Man nods convincingly. “Oh yes, Madame. Last year, we had no power for two weeks.”

!!!###@@@

Holy Cow! self exclaimed. Two weeks! How did you get through it?

At which point, the man just shrugs.

What must be endured, must be endured.

Of course! Because, no one has any choice. Self asks the stupidest questions sometimes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” Issue: Sometimes a Great Notion

It’s Saturday evening in Ireland and somewhere in Dublin a priest who’s known self since she was a little girl is dying.

The priest’s house is big and cold and the church right beside is empty.

But this story isn’t over yet. It’s still waiting for an ending. Strange to think it was only a few short weeks ago when she and the priest were drinking beer over Chinese food because he was so happy to see self; he told her last year he’d be dead before she got back to Ireland. Well, she proved him wrong.

One day, she’ll have to write a story about the time he and a fellow priest drove her all the way to Annaghmakerrig and how she learned what the Gaelic words lir and kill and dun mean. The priests spent the drive teasing her about possibly running into a banshee, the crying ghost woman.

Here’s one story that is finished and that self doesn’t mind sharing with you: Mirri Glasson-Darling’s “True North,” which is one of the nine stories in Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” issue. The story is about the cold and about polar ice caps. Self doesn’t know why she, child of the tropics, born and raised in the Philippines, is so fascinated with cold climes. Sometimes she thinks the real reason she applied to Banff Writing Studio was that she began writing, last year, a story about polar bears.

In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP. At the Book Fair, she met Crab Orchard Review editor Allison Joseph. Here she is, Fierce and Fabulous:

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review (which included self's story in the West Coast & Beyond Issue), Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis.

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review, Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis

And here’s an excerpt from Mirri Glasson-Darling’s story, “True North”:

I am a twenty-seven-year-old Midwestern, Caucasian male, floating on an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

It must be understood that this is not just a suicide.

The eventual results will be the same, but I find my death more of an unfortunate side-effect; you don’t come to the end of the world in order to better understand yourself — you come to step off the edge. All across history you have explorers heading out blindly in one direction or another, driven by riches, isolation, or general madness. A search for direction and something which cannot be satisfied, even if you circled the world twice over.

Throwing in a picture of Lake Louise in snowy Alberta:

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Glasson-Darling’s story is as fierce and unflinching as the landscape. Self has no words.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SYMBOL: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is SYMBOL.

As The Daily Post states: “Symbolism is uniquely human. We use symbols to represent intangible things like our beliefs and emotions, and to convert the abstract into something understandable.”

Here are a couple of symbols:

June 17, 2015, Action for Addressing Climate Change, South Bank, London: Groups from all over England came to speak to their MPs. Self was with Joan McGavin, from Southampton. Was lovely to see this red heart instead of the usual placards:

London, South Bank, Wednesday June 17, 2015

London, South Bank, Wednesday June 17, 2015

Next: On a pilgrimage to find Shadowhaunter haunts around London (You haven’t been following this blog very long if you don’t understand “Shadowhunters” LOL), self lands on Fleet Street, the street where all the English papers used to have their main offices:

Fleet Street, the Street of Journalists (Just steps away is St. Bride's, where there's a moving tribute to Foreign Correspondent Marie Colvin, killed in Hom, Syria, 2012)

Fleet Street, the Street of Journalists (Just steps away is St. Bride’s, where there’s a moving tribute to Foreign Correspondent Marie Colvin, killed in Hom, Syria, 2012)

Inside the Church of St. Bride’s, the walls are lined with photographs representing the Stations of the Cross:

Station of the Cross, St. Bride's Church, off Fleet Street, London

Station of the Cross, St. Bride’s Church, off Fleet Street, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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